Re: OBRA's History

Candi Murray

March 1, 2007 at 9:02 AM

I wrote this in 2000

The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) was originally started in the
late 70s. Called Oregon Cycling Association (OCA), it was then the district
association of USCF clubs. The name was changed to the Oregon Bicycle Racing
Association several years later to avoid confusion with the political group,
the Oregon Citizen's Alliance which was getting much negative media
attention at the time. There was not much activity for the first few years
after OCA was formed. When Steve Scarich became the District Representative
he pushed to increase the strength of the organization. Organization was
improved and a system of collecting fees from races was established. A few
years later Mike Murray was elected to the board. Mike wanted more racing
in Oregon than was currently being done so he turned the focus of the group
toward making it easier and easier to produce quality events. He bought
traffic signs, photo finish equipment, PA systems, CB radios and much more.
Whenever OCA had money Mike spent it. So instead of individual promoters
having to rent and/or stockpile equipment, this equipment became available
to all events big and small. Over the years we have added to the equipment
and now have a large truck that can be used to transport whatever is needed
to a race. We developed a automated phone line for race information and
purchased an 800 number, established a web presence and with the advent of
the electronic age we have been able to acquire 800 email address from our
1700 members and now distribute race flyers, results and notices at the
click of the mouse. This year we also added a chat group that allows
members to post for sale items and have discussions.

Dissatisfaction with the United States Cycling Federation came on slowly and
climaxed in December of 1998 when they fired all the Regional
Representatives in favor of a plan to only utilize 10 people nationwide to
service the membership. At this same time alternatives to the insurance
provided by the national governing body became more readily available and
the question was asked, 'What are we getting back for the dollars that are
sent to Colorado Springs?' An annual membership ranged from $35 to $50 and
then the charge for insurance was about twice what was available
commercially. OBRA figured that Oregon alone was sending about $200,000
annually to USAC in USCF and NORBA membership fees and race permits and
surcharges. In exchange we received little in the way of services and now
we were not even getting a local representative. The straw that broke the
back was when USAC doubled the permit fees for the weekend day series races.
To send a message to Colorado Springs the series promoters choose to insure
with an insurance plan purchased by OBRA and to forgo USCF sanctioning. We
sent letters to every USAC board, director and staff member explaining why
we were doing this and further explaining that it was likely that all Oregon
events would do this unless USAC made changes to address our concerns over
the diminishing level of service. We only received one response. It became
apparent that local racing was not what the governing body was about. It is
what OBRA is about, to promote and increase the number of events and racers
within the state. In the fall of 1998 there was a vote of member clubs that
was unanimous that we would offer the OBRA insurance plan to all events.
This meant that virtually all Oregon events were no longer associated with
USAC. We have met with the principle of USAC to see if we could work out
our difference but to no avail.

OBRA has been successful beyond our imagination. Our membership swelled to
the highest levels ever when David Beede contacted us about branching out
into mountain bike racing. The dissatisfaction among NORBA members was even
greater than that from the road/track side. Last year we were able to
organize a race series amongst the mountain bike races and added them to our
already existing email network. This has given them a voice that they have
not experienced before.

Now other states have followed our lead. American Bicycle Racing (ABR) in
the Midwest, Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado (BRAC - which has now
changed its name to American Cycling Association) represent Colorado,
Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and parts of Texas and North California/Nevada
Cycling Association (NCNCA) have all formed a coalition of association-
Federation of Independent Cycling Associations (FIAC). We have started
incorporation proceedings and are working toward a shared rulebook and rider
reciprocity. No matter what happens, the OBRA membership has chosen to
concentrate on cycling within the state. Our 2000 calendar has over 200
says of racing, we offer free membership to juniors and strongly suggest
that the race organizers reduce entry fees for those under 18. Our Best All
round Competition has expanded to recognize the outstanding performances in
each discipline and new for 2000 we are hosting an Oregon Cup of specific
races. One thing to remember is that while we try to give the impression of
an organized workforce, volunteers do all of the functions of OBRA; there
are no paid positions. What makes it work is that riders know that to get
they must give back also.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Quenton Conant
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 4:18 PM
Subject: [OBRA Chat] OBRA's History


I've looked for a history of OBRA and maybe I didn't look in the right
place, or maybe it's not there, but I'm curious to hear/read the history of
OBRA. The driving force behind it's formation, etc... Anyone out there know?
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